Author Archives: Polished Printing

Are you a grammar guru?

Are you a Grammar Guru?

By Katharine Vail

Are you constantly correcting grammar mistakes everywhere you see them? Whether it is on Facebook statuses, when people are speaking to you, books or newspaper articles you are reading, you are constantly correcting the mistakes in your head (or maybe even out loud!). Do you read with a red pen? Are published books actually reedited . . . by you? This is why I decided to become an editor.

I didn’t decide to go to school to become an editor though. In fact, I began college as a Business major. I thought that’s where all the money could be made. After a couple semesters of taking economics and business classes, I discovered that business was definitely not the field I was supposed to be in. I switched over to an English major and enjoyed the freedom that the English language gave me. The great thing about English classes was that most of the graded work wasn’t based on the facts that I could regurgitate on quizzes and tests, rather the graded work focused on the papers that I wrote and the ideas that I could come up with.

How did I begin editing?

After college, I was convinced that I had to have a job in the business world that offered me insurance, 401k plans, and a salary. That’s what every college graduate wants, right? After sending numerous resumes out to companies, I decided that what I really needed to do was focus on what was right in front of me. My computer. I needed to create a website that offered freelance editing. I loved to read, and what could be better than to make money reading anything and everything. I decided I could help writers polish their writing!

I joined the Elance network and sent proposals to prospective writers that I could work for. Money wasn’t the main objective when I began. The main objective was to get my name out there and start gaining positive feedback. Once a few writers hired me, I began to acquire constant work from them. I also joined the San Diego Professional Editors Network and reached more writers that needed editors for their books. Again work started to flow and after one project finished, often writers would send me more of their work to edit.

My Advice to College Students

Begin to build your resume right now! Join your college’s newspaper or magazine. Become the editor of it! If your college doesn’t have a newspaper or magazine, start one! Nothing looks better than being able to show prospective clients that you have experience or that you took initiative to begin something that you love.

Become an intern at a newspaper, magazine, or press. Not only will this give you an idea of what it is like to work as an Editor but you will be able to gain firsthand experience of what day-to-day life in the office is like. If you are striving to work for yourself, you will still gain valuable skills as an intern that will make you prosper in your future!

Denver Publishing Institute 2013

The Denver Publishing Institute. What an amazing four weeks of lectures from Publishing professionals from all aspects of the publishing world. I’ve created an abridged version of the lectures as a supplement to the course’s itinerary to show you a fragment of the publishing process.

Only write a book if you truly feel compelled to tell the story.

-Peter Osnos

  • Overview of Publishing (keynote address): Peter L.W. Osnos, Founder and Editor-at-Large, PublicAffairs. The first week started off with hearing from Peter Osnos, whose past experience included working with President Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter, Sam Donaldson, President Obama, President Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan, and President Clinton… just to name a few.
  • The Role of the Editor/Acquisition of the Manuscript/Making the Publishing Decision: Andrea Schulz, Vice President, Editor-in-Chief, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Publishing Institute graduate
  • The Role of the Literary Agent: Sandra Bond, Owner, Bond Literary Agency, discusses how agents work with authors to represent their books to editors. Sandra Bond gave the cut-and-dry of how to write a book proposal in addition to the role of a literary agent.

Parts of a Book Proposal:

overview: making case for merits of publication. about the author: credentials and expertise. market for book: who’s going to buy your book? promo for book: what does the author bring to the table? comparable books: similar books that sold well and how your book is better. Include the books Table of Contents. Chapter Summaries: include in a brief 1 or 2 paragraphs. Sample Chapters: Choose a chapter or two that best showcases writing ability

  • How the Novel Is Born: A discussion between Stephen White, Author of Line of Fire, Dutton, 2012 and Karl Weber, President, Karl Weber Literary, former Editor and Publisher with McGraw-Hill, John Wiley & Sons, Times Business/Random House, Inc. We had the opportunity to listen to Stephen White’s experience as a writer of psychological thriller fiction at the Tattered Cover Bookstore in LoDo.
  • An Author’s Perspective: Peter Heller on his books, from non-fiction to fiction. The Dog Stars (pub. August 2012). Peter Heller’s onstage performance when he got up to talk to the institute was incredibly entertaining and captivating. His career began writing for an outdoors magazine as an extreme kayaker, and later switching to fiction writing as he would write without a plot or knowing the ending. Peter Heller noted three things most valuable to writers being 1) literary intelligence, 2) flexibility and capacity of risk, and 3) commitment.
  • The Economics of Publishing: Robert Follett, President, Alpine Guild Inc., formerly Chairman and President, Follett Book Company. Selling books is the most difficult part of the publishing process according to Robert Follett. 

Some editors are failed writers, but so are most writers. 

– T.S. Eliot

  • Karl Weber, freelance editor, Scholastic, AMACOM, Wiley Publishers, Random House. Karl Weber directed a two-week Editing Workshop for the institute in addition to Nan Gatewood Satter. 

An Editor’s Bookshelf: Editors on Editing, The Element of Style, The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed., The Modern Researcher, Follow the Story, Language in Though and Action

What an Editor does:

editorial evaluation- yes/no decision with support

editorial critique- written to guide and instruct author to make manuscript the best as it can be

developmental editing- going through manuscript deleting, suggesting, adding, marking up the ms with detail suggestions

book doctoring- manuscript needs substantial editing

line editing- detail editing of manuscript grammar/word choice/ polishing

copyedit- editing in detail to catch grammar/ punctuation/ house style guide

  • University Press/Scholarly Publishing, a Micro-workshop: Peter Dougherty, Director, Princeton University Press.
  • College Textbooks/Role of the College Sales Representative: Roth Wilkofsky, Senior Publisher, Pearson Higher Education; Reid Hester, Senior Editor, Psychology, SAGE Publishing and former Executive Editor, Political Science, Pearson Higher Education, 1995 graduate of the Publishing Institute
  • Copyediting and Proofreading: Alice Levine, Freelance Editor, formerly Copy Chief, Westview Press.
  • Book Packaging, a Micro-workshop: Jim Becker, President, becker&mayer!
  • Multi-Media Publishing: Jamie Bogner, Vice President and Group Publisher, Interweave + Martha Pullen/ F+W Media
  • Book Design: Rebecca Finkel, Graphic Designer, F + P Graphic Design
  • Production: Stacy Schuck, Production Manager, The Perseus Books Group
  • Reference/Information Publishing in Digital Age: Larry Baker, Senior Content Project Editor, Gale/ Cengage Learning; Publishing Institute graduate
  • E-books from a Library Perspective: Chris Brown, Reference Librarian and Coordinator for Government Documents, University of Denver
  • Children’s Book Publishing, a Micro-workshop: Virginia Duncan, Vice President, Publisher, Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins, with commentary from the bookseller’s point of view from Judy Bulow, Children’s Books Buyer, Tattered Cover Book Store
  • International Publishing and Subsidiary Rights: Kristin Kliemann, Vice President, Subsidiary Rights, John Wiley and Sons, Inc
  • Metadata: Bill Newlin, Publisher, Avalon Travel and Vice President, The Perseus Books Group
  • Digital Publishing: Todd Stocke, Vice President, Editorial Director of Sourcebooks
  • Digital Publishing: Mary Cummings, Editorial Director, Diversion Books
  • Social Media Strategies: Erica Barmash, Associate Director of Digital and Trade Marketing, Bloomsbury Children’s and Walker Books for Young Readers
  • Publicity: Scott Manning, President, Scott Manning and Associates
  • Press Releases: Karen Hemmes, Press Release Publicist, Publicity Connections
  • Scholarly Journals: John Tagler, Vice President and Executive Director, American Association of Publishers’ Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division
  • Legal Aspects of Publishing: Jon Tandler, Attorney, Ryley Carlock & Applewhite
  • Wholesalers: Kent Freeman, Chief Technology Officer, Ingram Digital Book Group and President, VitalSource Technologies, Inc
  • A Day with the Independent Publisher. A panel of experts from several houses across the country. The 2013 panelists: Chip Fleischer, Steerforth Books, Hanover, NH; David Godine, David R. Godine, Publisher, Boston, MA; Gary Groth, Fantagraphics Books, Seattle, WA; Jack Jensen, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA; Carolyn Sakowski, John F. Blair, Publisher, Winston-Salem, NC; and Marina Tristan, Arte Publico Press, Houston, TX
  • The Role of the Sales Representative and Bookstore Buyer: Cathy Langer, Lead Buyer, Tattered Cover Book Store and Deirdre Dolan, Vice President, Sales Manager, W.W. Norton & Company
  • The Bookstore and Censorship: Joyce Meskis, Director, Publishing Institute, and owner of Tattered Cover Book Store
  • Religious Publishing: Joel Fotinos, Vice President, Publisher, Jeremy P. Tarcher, an imprint of Penguin Group USA
  • A morning with JP Leventhal, Publisher, Black Dog & Leventhal followed by awarding of certificates and a graduation brunch

DPI Graduation Cake

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Two weeks!

We’re down to the two week countdown until I begin the Denver Publishing Institute! Two unpublished manuscripts have been read. A press release and an ad created for one of the manuscripts for the Marketing Workshop and a reader’s report written on the other ready to talk about in the Editing Workshop of the program. Bookstores have been visited for the Design and Marketing Workshops with notes on attractive book designs and eye catching book displays. A number of unpublished children manuscripts have been read for the Children’s Books Workshop. And finally prices have been determined for the costs of publishing books for the Economics portion of the program.

With the pre-work finished, two weeks are left to catch up on some grammar basics through The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition, finish up reading Editors on Editing by Gerald Gross, and read The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White. I’m super excited about the experience to come, and hope that DPI leads to a successful future in publishing.

Katie Couric

Katie Couric’s Commencement speech June 1, 2013 at Randolph-Macon College, my alma mater.


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Pay It Forward

Late August 2012, we were wrapping up a job in Oklahoma and headed back to our apartment three hours from the location of where we were staying for James’s job. We were at a gas station filling up my car and discussing where we could stop to get some cash for the tolls that we would pass headed back to Tulsa. It was 9 or 10 o’clock at night, so our places to stop that would be open were limited.

On the other side of our gas pump, a lady maybe in her 40s was filling up her SUV and had apparently overheard our conversation. She stepped around the gas pump and handed us a $20 bill saying that we would need it because there were numerous tolls we’d pass. Completely blown away and awestruck, James told the lady that was awfully kind but we couldn’t take her money. She insisted we did and said don’t thank her, but thank the Lord.


After we finished filling up the car, we were on the road again headed to Tulsa, talking to each other about the amazing blessing the lady had just done for us. We pulled into the first toll and handed the tenant the crispy $20 bill, but the man in the booth said, “Do you all know the woman ahead of you all in an SUV? She said that a couple and a dog in an SUV would be behind her and she went ahead and paid the toll for you.”

Again a feeling of extreme gratitude overcame both of us. This lady had not only paid the first toll for us, but she had paid for the second and third toll for us as well. In the spirit of generosity, pay it forward to a stranger.

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Going Green in Colorado

Going Green

I know most of my posts associated with Polished Printing have to do with editing and publishing, but today we’re taking a little run in outfield. We’re talking about GOING GREEN! First of all, I now live in Colorado and if you know anything about Colorado then you may think healthy people, perhaps hippies, granola, trail mix, healthy health stuff, and lots and lots of exercising outdoors.

Yes, when we moved to Colorado that is what we thought too! In fact, we were told “all those folks up there are a bunch of granola eating hippies.” Now that we’ve been living here for nearly a year, we’re using organic cleaning supplies (thanks Mom for supplying us with Shaklee), organic deodorant, organic shampoo, organic conditioner, and we’re outside all the time biking, running, and walking Miss Belle (our yellow lab).  What else? I’ve started experimenting with Green Smoothies: strawberries, bananas, spinach, kale, and flax seed… yum yum yummmm! Also, we’ve started using oils as our air freshener to scent the apartment instead of candles or toxic air sprays.

In addition to trying to keep the indoors natural, we’re trying to grow our own food outside! Okay… not a bunch of food until we actually have a real garden that we can plant in but we’re growing herbs outside on our patio of the apartment 🙂 wahoo! It’s a start, right? Now it’s time to start limiting the trash flow and probably using less water, using less electricity, and the list goes on… it’s a start though.

Love getting healthier in Colorado!

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Denver Publishing Institute


I’ve been accepted into the graduate program at the University of Denver Publishing Institute to gain insight on the many aspects of book publishing: editorial, marketing, publicity, literary agencies, design, finance, copyright law, book selling… (and I’m sure so much more to learn!) 95 graduates accepted to DPI for the four-week course will hear from speakers from across the country lead lectures and impart their wisdom. I’m hoping that DPI will not only open my eyes to the aspects of the book industry that are beyond my knowledge, but I hope that it will further Polished Printing’s success.

I look forward to posting my literary adventures along with the knowledge gained from professionals in the Publishing Industry. In addition, I’ll be networking one-on-one with these various publishing professionals and sitting in on lectures from some of the top publishers in the country: McGraw-Hill, Random House, HarperCollins. I look forward to sharing my DPI experience with you!

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Polished Printing transcribes your story!

Do you have a story that you’d like to turn into a book but you struggle to write it down?

Email to schedule a Skype session.

Let Polished Printing transcribe your story for you.